Woodbine, in suburban Toronto, has joined the National Thoroughbred Racing Association NTRA, it was announced Thursday. Woodbine is one of North America's premier facilities and in 1996 was the first track to host the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships outside the United States.
Owned and operated by Woodbine Entertainment Group, Woodbine was a partner with Fort Erie Racetrack in the first simulcast to take place in North American for pari-mutuel wagering, which occurred in 1980. The track also helped to develop the now-commonly used "bet and cash" pari-mutuel system that enables bettors to make wagers and cash winning tickets at any mutuel machine.
Woodbine hosts both Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing and features 1,700 slot machines. Alternative gaming has helped push total Thoroughbred purses at the track to more than $50 million (U.S. funds), for a daily average distribution of approximately $309,000 in 2001. The track operated 165 days of live Thoroughbred racing in 2001.
Woodbine hosts a number of prestigious races that will be televised in 2002 as part of the NTRA's coverage of Thoroughbred racing. Woodbine stakes races scheduled to be televised include the Grey Breeders' Cup Stakes, which will be part of the Bessemer Trust 2-Year-Old Challenge, the Atto Mile, the Canadian International and the E.P. Taylor Stakes.
"Woodbine consistently has 'pushed the envelope' to keep Ontario horseracing vibrant," said Tim Smith, commissioner of the NTRA. "At the same time, it has immeasurably improved our sport's economy throughout North America with its bold innovations."
"While the NTRA, as presently constituted, is focused primarily on American issues, Woodbine is very pleased to be able to demonstrate its support for the NTRA's important efforts on behalf of the horseracing industry," said David Willmot, WEG group chairman and CEO.